Letter to all of the Brothers of the Order of Friars Minor
May the peace and joy of the risen Lord Jesus be with you!
In recent weeks, we have followed narratives of the resurrection appearances in the Gospel of St. Luke. One of those stories tells of two disheartened disciples who were met on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus by a stranger who did not seem to know about the events that had transpired in the life of Jesus. Cleophas and the other disciple asked the stranger in frustration, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place in these days?” St. Luke makes abundantly clear that these two disciples of Jesus did not understand the deeper meaning of Jesus’ suffering and death until he opened their eyes in the sharing of the Word and the breaking of the bread.
We Friars Minor have also experienced recent and unanticipated events that are changing the course of the life of our brother and former minister general, Archbishop-elect José Rodriguez Carballo, Secretary of the Congregation for Consecrated Life, and the life of the Order. While we mourn the loss of our beloved brother José to our brotherhood, we rejoice with the universal Church knowing of the tremendous contributions he will make as he carries forward his new responsibilities. As we pray for him, we pray also that we might listen attentively to the movement of the Spirit of God among us and, through the sharing of his Word and Eucharist, we might discover with eyes of faith what the Lord is asking of us at this particular moment in history.
Many brothers have asked what the nomination of Br. Jose means for the functioning of the government and the life of the Order. The mandates and animation we have undertaken remain as vital as ever to the renewal of our lives both individually and at the level of the provinces and the Order. We must recommit ourselves to fulfilling these mandates with all of our hearts, minds and souls. At the same time, our General Constitutions and General Statutes outline a process we must undertake to prayerfully discern and elect a new Minister General. We read in Article 201.1 of the Constitutions (Latin, the definitive version):
Vacante officio Ministri generalis extra Capitulum ante festum Pentecostes anni Capitulo generali praecedentis, electio novi Ministri generalis ad sexennium complendum fit a Praesidibus et Vice Praesidibus Conferentiarum Ministrorum provincialium, una cum Definitorio generali a
Vicario generali convocatis, et collegialiter coadunatis, intra duos menses a vacatione computandos.
In conformity with Article 201.1 of the General Constitutions, the Vicar General together with the General Definitorium have convoked the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the Conferences, and the Custos of the Holy Land to gather at the General Curia on May 21-22 to participate in a process of prayerful discernment that will lead to the election of our new Minister General who will serve until the General Chapter in 2015.
The election process for the new Minister General will begin with a day of reflection and prayer on May 21. A specialist in Franciscan spirituality will help the brother electors reflect on the role of the Minister General according to our Franciscan sources. This reflection will be followed by time for prayer and adoration before the blessed sacrament. In the afternoon of May 21, the brother electors will be provided time to discuss freely their expectations of the new minister and, eventually, to propose names of the brothers they feel capable of fulfilling this role. The morning of May 22, the brother electors will gather in prayer, followed by a process of election of the new Minister General. According to Article 208 of the General Constitutions, in the event the Vicar General is elected to serve as Minister General, the General Definitory will elect a new Vicar General to serve until the next General Chapter. In the event a General Definitor is elected the Minister General, the General Definitory will elect a new General Definitor “after consultation with the Ministers Provincial of the Conference for which the Definitor who left office had been elected.”
We urge you our dear brothers to strive to live the Gospel faithfully each and every day, walking together the road to Emmaus, recognizing in the breaking of the Word and Bread of life the presence of the resurrected Lord Jesus. We call upon you to recite the prayer for the discerment of a new Minister General, which is found below, and to celebrate the votive Mass of the Holy Spirit on May 22 for this purpose.
May the Spirit of the Risen Lord Jesus fill your hearts with joy and expectation and may the Blessed Virgin Mary extend her special blessings upon you.
On behalf of the Defintory general, fraternally yours,
Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM
17 April 2013
Prayer for the Discernment and Election of our new Minister General
21-22 May 2013
Lord Jesus Christ, you who have called us, like St. Francis of Assisi, to live the Gospel in fraternity, mission, service to both the poor and marginalized, and in communion with the Church, we pray to infuse your Spirit on the one you call to be Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor. May he be a man after your own heart, following your example with dedication and service!
We thank you for, former Minister General, Brother Jose, for his faithful service to the Order, the Church, and the world. We ask you to give him the grace necessary to accomplish his new apostolic ministry.
We pray to you, Lord Jesus, in union with the Father, to pour out the Holy Spirit on the Order of Friars Minor, especially during the election of the new Minister General. May you wisdom be throughout the discernment process and decisions of the fraternity.
Most Holy Trinity, give to the new Minister General, whom you have chosen, holiness and strength to carry out with dedication his ministry and mission. May Your Word reigns supreme in his life. Through his words and actions, may the he lead the Order to you, who are Good, All Good, the Supreme Good!
Continue to bless and guide the Order of Friars Minor, so that we can fulfill your holy and true command and may the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, intercede for us now and for ever. Amen.